Curios and Relics
Canes Owned by Lincoln
Excerpts from newspapers and other sources
From the files of the
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection
7/, zoaf. OiS . W&i,
Mr. Lincoln's Cane. Mrs. Lincoln has given to
Senator Sumner a Palmetto cane, which was pre-
sented to Mr. Lincoln some months since. The head
ot the cane is an elaborately carved piece of ivorv
representing an eagle shieldin* with her wines a neH
containing several eaelets, and in the act oftlrawine
up with her beak the l«lds of an American fla°- to
protect the nest and heryoune from the insidious
approach of a serpent. The idea aptly symbolizes
the Onion s dangers, and as developed upon the head
?l * e cane, is quite effective as well as ornamental.
IN. Y. Com. Advertiser. . I J /, *
President Lincoln's valuable gold-headed cane, given to him m 1851
by John 4. M'Clernand, and bjr Mr. Lincoln's family to the late Bev. Dr.
Smith of Springfield, 111., has in accordance with Mr. Lmcol n s
wishes, been given to John Bright. In. Dr. Smith's will the
following clause was inserted: (Tl give, devise and bequeatn unto
John Bright, Esq., member of thTBritish. House of Damons, and to MsH$
heirs the gold-mounted staff or cane which belonged to the deceased Pres.
ident Lincoln of the United States, and presented to be by tne deceased's
wisow and family as a mark of the President's respect, which staff is
to be keot and used as an heir-loom in the family of the said John
Bright as a token of the esteem which the late President felt for
him bedause of his unwearied zeal and defense of the United States m
suppressing the civil rebellion of the Southern States. \J
Story of the Wanderings of Lin-
coin's Cane. ^ _ .
Written for The Sunday Republic, ^* ' ' * S <»
On* of the most precious relics of Pres-
ident Lincoln treasured by his son, Robert,
Is an old cane that has a romantic story
of queer wanderings and strange recovery.
When Lincoln was a poor lawyer in
Springfield, 111., he carried about with him a
plain ebony cane with the name "A. Lin-
coln" marked on a silver ferrule. The
cane may have cost about $5.
When Lincoln found himself In Washing-
ton he still carried the old ebony, being
loth to part with his old' friend. One day
a delegation of admirers waited upon him
and presented him with an elegant modern
cane with an elaborately engraved gold
handle. He accepted the gift more to ac-
commodate his friends than to please him-
self. The old cane Lincoln loaned to his
trusty valet, who often frequented a prom-
inent restaurant "In Washington, where
many professional men, actors, lawyers and
musicians assembled. Among the number
was A. R. Phelps, the first manager of the
Grand Central Theater. Hard pushed for
money the valet pawned the cane with the
proprietor, and from his hands It passed to
those of Phelps.
In his vocation as a theatrical man Phelps
Btruck Troy, N. Y., some four or five years
later, and assumed the management of the
Grand Central Theater. Finally adversity
overtook him, and In his distress he pawned
the cane to a citizen of Troy for $25. He
left Troy shortly after that, and has never
been seen there since.
When Robert T. Lincoln learned that the
cane was In Troy, ho corresponded with
Chief Markham with a view of obtaining
possession of It. As soon as Mr. Markham
received a clew as to its whereabouts he
served a search warrant on the proprietor
of a meat market, at the corner of North
A niKlilnnd Product.
"I've always wanted to see some of your CalU
fornla mountains," kald an old English sea cap-
tain yesterday; "and
I'm going to do It this — -
time, sure. That desire ■
was flret aroused ln^ me ISfPfPrfl
visiting some relatives ^^f'' : S ^al
near that city, and nat- BUrK PtIH
urally fell to discussing WrjXj y ^-V ^^ P^ 1
mountain*'" asked? fiiJ^A ' I'M
Pointlng^to some neigh- Jpw»7»w \_
host, "thfey b? P bu^ hllli* "t/ Vn
That bey ant is a moun-
tain.' i ^Jut 1 '
" 'On, that's a mountain. Is it? Well, In Call*
fornla you would have to ptle up all the hills'
and mountains In sight here on top of tho othei
before they would etbll It a hill. -
"The old Scotchman 'SWrtched his head looked
"The old Scotchman Stjjrtrtcbed his head, looked)
Incredulous, but Rai.lT nothing. That night he
slipped the biggest NttfcwaUr crab he could Rot
slipped the biggest sftfcwaUr crab he could got
Into his visitor's bed^hsd) sjon after retiring 'he
heard a nowl in fhe'waett s Chamber.
" 'Hoots, mon, what-ata Ve?" ho shouted, as hs
burst Into the room.
" "What In the dickens have you got that crabt
In bed forT demanded the guest, as he rubbed a
red spot on his anatomy.
" 'That's na a crab mon, that's a Highland
flea," declared the old Scotchman, and they heard
no more of California's wonders during tha.«
visit."— San Francisco Post.
The maid of sin score years ago
Bat by the log-fire's fiick'rlng glowf
She was so fair and winning!
Her hands passed deftly to and fro.
As, to her singing, sweet and low.
She by her wheel sat spinning.
She skims through parks where hreezes blow.
Her cbeeks lit up with ruddy glow.
This' modern girl so winning!
Regrets not times of long ago
As, darting fast, or taunt ring slow.
She on her wheel goes spinning.
Lincoln's Pet Cane Sold
at Auction for $145.
Spreckels Mansion in Honolulu is
Closed Till Queen Returns.
A walking stick, which until the death
of Abraham Lincoln was his cherished
possession and constant companion,
was sold at public auction recently.
From }2o. the first bid, the price ad
sauced to $145, and it was sold tor that
sum to H. H. "Wibert, an ardent admirer
of tho great President.
LINCOLN'S FAVORITE OANE.
The cane, which is longer than the
ordinary ones, on account of Mr Lin-
coln's great hight, is black with a buck-
hcrn handle. The wood is studded with
li knots, each having a top of silver
upon which one letter of Lincoln's name
is engraved, so that the whole series of
letters from handle to ferrule spell
A metal band joins the handle to the
stick, and this bears an inscription
showing that the cane was presented
to the President by his "Old Chum, S.
Strong," in 1S60.
On the handle is another plate which
shows that the stick was given ta
Frank B. Carpenter, a personal friend
of Lincoln, by Mrs Lincoln.
In 1S91 Carpenter was penniless, and
nledged the stick to his cousin, Fannie
Mathewson, in return for a loan of $500.
About two year? a^o the artist died.
He had not n deemed the pledge.
Fannie Mathewson, through -her at-
torneys, authorized the sale, and yester-
•iay it wis audi mud. The price re-
ceived is- considered ixeeedingly small,
as $l.wi would have been asked for the
cane in a private sale.— New York Jour-
CANE CARRIED BY LIN.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
June 29, 1932
Mrs. Carrie T, Farrar
Pine Point, ^aine
My dear Mrs. farrart
tthile I doubt seriously whether we would be in
the TTaricet for the cane which you possets, we have a
great raany inquiries for Lincoln curios here and if yon
world lllce to send & description of It and some story as
to its origin, we wuld lie -very glad to file it for
reference. We have one friend especially who is interested
in canes an 1 he might like to get lh tonch with yon.
Tery truly yours.
Lincoln Historical Beseerch Foundation
sits. GuuaaaA^ ■
Aft* 13, 1932
Mrs. Cp.rri« f. fcarrar
Pin© Point, m—
*ly dear Jfrs. Farrert
I M forwarding your Totter to Mr. Gllwer H.
Barrett, of Bttoagp, who is interested in Lincoln curi as
as I thought ha might lilca to ac<pire the can* 1 ? which you
Thanking yo- 1 for the information about this
cane, we arc
Lincoln Historical Besearch Foundation
July 13, 1932
Hr. Oliver l« Barrett
Care Cook, Sail A M^tti
310 South SflcMgan Iwenne
¥y •*■§ llr. Barrett:
Enclosed fm will please find a letter recently
recriwad from Urt. Carrie F. Ferrar with reference to a
Lincoln cane, "»Mcfc we QtoQjJM yen wight be interested i n.
TCith MNltttt -vrsonal regards. I err
lespectf fel "'y yours.
Lincoln Historical Baaearch Foundation
A gold headed cane that Mr. Lincoln
gave "to his pastor, Rev. P. D. Gurley,
was sold in Chicago in June, 1932, for
$200. At the same sale a chair used by
Lincoln in the White House brought $250.
I RECEIVED AT
INDICATED ON THIS MESSAGE
This Is a full rate Telegram, Obi egram or
Radiogram unless otherwise indicated by
signal in the check or in the address.
NIGHT CABLE LETTER
1536 JUN 24 PM 3 51
27 DL RC=CX CHICAGO ILL 2h 438P
DIRECTOR LINCOLN MUSEUM=
LINCOLN NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE CO FTWAYNE IND=
PLEASE WIRE ME COLLECT IF YOU HAVE ANY PICTURES OF OR ANY
INFORMATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT ABRAHAM LINCOLN EVER CARRIED
A CANE OR WALKING STICK=
MYRON T HARSHAW ERWIN WASEY & CO.
Telephone Your Telegrams to To$tCtl Telegraph
Myron T. Harshaw
Erwin Wasey & Co.
Chic ro, Illinois
No original photographs of Lincoln ^Ith cane. Tradition suggests he
carried one. Have descriptions of several he is said to have used.
L. A. barren, Director
Lincoln Nat'l Life Foundation
Bulletin of the Lincoln National Life Foundation Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor.
Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Number 401 FORT WAYNE, INDIANA December 14, 1936
GIFTS FOR THE PRESIDENT
The Christmas season recalls some of the many gifts
which Abraham Lincoln received as president-elect and
chief executive of the nation. Soon after his election
these favors began to arrive and they continued to be
received at intervals throughout his administration. He
is said to have remarked to his wife before they left
Springfield for Washington, that regardless of what
came out of his new office apparently they were going
to get some new clothes.
Wearing apparel, however, represented but a very
small part of the large number of gifts he received.
Books and pictures were the most numerous expressions
of appreciation and it seems as if he must have been on
the mailing list for each new publication.
One of the earliest gifts of clothing he received was
an overcoat from Isaac Fenno, to whom he wrote the
following expression of thanks:
Springfield, 111., Jany. 22, 1861
Isaac Fenno, Esq.
Your note of the 1st inst., together with a very sub-
stantial and handsome overcoat which accompanied it
by Express, were duly received by me, and would both
have been acknowledged sooner but for the multifarious
demands upon my time and attention.
Permit me now to thank you sincerely for your ele-
gant and valuable New Year's Gift, and the many kind
expressions of personal confidence and regard contained
in your letter.
Lincoln's relatives did not forget him as Christmas
time approached and one of them, living in Indiana sent
him a pair of socks. His acknowledgment of their receipt
is written in the typical Lincoln style.
Executive Mansion, Washington, Dec. 4, 1861.
My Dear Madam:
I take great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of
your letter of Nov. 26; and in thanking you for the
present by which it was accompanied. A pair of socks
so fine, and soft, and warm, could hardly have been
manufactured in any other way than the old Kentucky
fashion. Your letter informs me that your maiden name
was Crume, and that you were raised in Washington
County, Kentucky, by which I infer that an uncle of
mine by marriage was a relative of yours. Nearly or
quite sixty years ago, Ralph Crume married Mary Lin-
coln, a sister of my father, in Washing-ton County, Ken-
Lincoln always deeply appreciated gifts from children
and seldom failed to acknowledge these favors at the
earliest possible moment. Two small girls, Clara and
Julia Brown, sent him a muffler, which possibly they
had made with their own hands. Their pictures were
also enclosed. Lincoln wrote to them this kind letter of
Washington, March 2, 1864.
Misses Clara & Julia Brown:
The Afgan you sent is received, and gratefully ac-
cepted. I especially like my little friends; and although
you have never seen me, I am glad you remember me
for the country's sake, and even more, that you remem-
ber, and try to help the poor soldiers.
A grand-niece of John Hancock, living in New York,
presented Lincoln with a rare document dated in 1765,
signed by Hancock and endorsed by an Abraham Lin-
coln, contemporary with Hancock. The document had
something to do with the rebuilding of Faniel Hall and
it was suggested to the president by the donor that the
document might prove "a happy augury of the country's
future history — 'The cradle of Liberty', rebuilt by the
joint efforts of John Hancock and Abraham Lincoln."
Lincoln wrote thanking Mrs. Colyer, the donor, for
the interesting document and "the flattering sentiment
with which it was accompanied."
It would be very difficult, indeed, to make a complete
list of all the canes which Lincoln had presented to him.
Most of them had some personal or historical signifi-
cance. A formal presentation program accompanied the
gift of one received just before going to Gettysburg. It
had formerly belonged to Senator David Colbert Brod-
erick of California. The report of Mr. Lincoln's reply to
Senator Conness, who presented the cane, follows in full
as it appears to be an unpublished speech of the presi-
"The president then accepted the cane, and, with
much emotion, replied that he never personally knew
the Senator's friend, Mr. Broderick, but he had always
heard him spoken of as one sincerely devoted to the
cause of human rights. Testimony to this point of his
character had been borne by those whom he had not
intimately known, as also by those whom he was per-
sonally and intimately acquainted, and, with all of them,
the testimony had been uniform. The memento which
was presented him by Senator Conness was of that class
of things, the highest honor that could be conferred
upon him. If, in the position he had been placed, he had
dene anything that entitled him to the honor the Senator
had assigned him, it was a proud reflection that his acts
were of such a character as to merit the affiliation of
the friends of a man like David C. Broderick. Whether
remaining in this world or looking down upon the earth
from the spirit land, to be remembered by such a man
as David C. Broderick was a fact he would remember
through all the years of his life. The proudest ambition
that he could desire was to do something for the elevation
of the condition of his fellow men. In conclusion, he re-
turned his sincere thanks for the part the Senator bore
in this presentation, and to the memory of his great
Some gifts sent to the president through their very
nature were received by him as expressions of good will
to the nation and these were properly deposited in the
national museum. Lincoln acknowledged from the King
of Siam, "a sword of costly materials and exquisite
workmanship," and also two huge elephant tusks. The
King likewise offered the president a herd of live ele-
phants but these Mr. Lincoln refused because he felt
they could not be properly cared for in this climate. It
is likely, however, that his son Tad would have looked
upon the gift of a herd of elephants with the same favor
as he did rabbits, goats, ponies and other specimens of
live stock which found their way to the White House
BURKET & BURKET
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
find lay, ohio
HARLAN F. BURKET
JOHN F. BURKET
JACOB F. BURKET
March 14, 1938
Dr. Lewis A. Warren,
Director of "Lincoln Lore",
Fort. Wayne, Ind.
Dear Dr. Warren:
A person runs onto little Lincoln items of interest in the most
unexpected placed. I stumbled onto one recently in reading the
book entitled "Life and Speeches of John Bright" the English
Statesman, published by A.C. Armstrong and Son, 714 Broadway,
New York and by Hodder and Stoughton of London, England, in 1881;
it is found on pages 70 and 71 in Volume 2 of this work. If,
perchance, you have not seen it, to save you the work of
looking it up, I will copy it. It is as follows:
"But perhaps the most Interesting reminiscence relating
to Mr. Bright and the United States is one respecting
which we are able to give the following particulars.
The staff used by President Lincoln was bequeathed to
Mr. Bright by the Rev. Dr. J. Smith of Springfield,
Illinois, the latter having first received it from Mr.
Lincoln's family. The President's gold-headed staff,
or cane, bears the following inscription on the gold
head: 'J. A. M 1 demand to the Hon. A. Lincoln, June 1857;'
and on a gold ferule below are the words , 'Presented to
Rev. Jas. Smith, D.D. late pastor of First Presbyterian
Church, Springfield, Ills, by the family of the late
President Lincoln, in memoriam of the high esteem in which
he was held by him and them as their pastor and dear friend,
27th April, 1868'. On another gold ferule, lower down,
is the following: 'Bequeathed by the Rev. Dr. Smith, U.S.
Consul, Dundee, to the Right Hon. John Bright, M. P. in
recognition of his tried friendship to the United States'".
"The following is an extract from the will of Dr. Smith:
'I give, devise, and bequeath unto John Bright, Esq., mem-
ber of the British House of Commons, and to his heirs, the
gold-mounted staff, or cane, which belonged to the deceased
President Lincoln of the United States, and presented to me
by the deceased's widow and family as a mark of the President's
respect; which staff is to be kept as an heirloom in the family
of the said John Bright, as a token of the esteem which the late
President felt for him because of his unwearied zeal and defence
of the United States in suppressing the civil rebelion of the
I am sending this in the hope that it will be a new reference
concerning an old subject.
filth, kind personal regards, I am
Bulletin of the Lincoln National Life Foundation Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor,
Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
July 31, 1939
A GOLD-HEADED WALKING STICK
A shawl or a tall silk hat would probably be noted as
features characterizing Abraham Lincoln, and often an
old fashioned umbrella is placed beside the tall hat as a
symbol of the prairie lawyer. For some reason, however,
a walking stick which Lincoln is said to have used habit-
ually does not seem to find any place in the Lincoln legend.
There has just come to light an interesting but rather
obscure reminiscence which would imply that even from
childhood Lincoln had been accustomed to carry some
kind of a stick; in adult years this evolved into a cane.
Possibly the old fashioned umbrella of the prairie years
was, in Lincoln's hand, a happy transition from the prim-
itive dogwood club to the more elaborate gold-headed cane
of the Presidential years.
A Washington correspondent tells the story of a
friend's visit to Abraham Lincoln, on which occasion Lin-
coln expressed himself on the use of walking sticks. Inas-
much as the reminiscence was printed in the month of
May, 1865, it bears the imprint of truth. The subject was
introduced by the fact that the visitor to Mr. Lincoln car-
ried a cane. The President reached for it and then ex-
pressed himself as follows :
"I always used a cane when I was a boy. It was a freak
of mine. My favorite one was a knotted beech stick, and
I carved the head myself. There's a mighty amount of
character in sticks. Don't you think so? You have seen
these fishing poles that fit into a cane? Well, that was
an old idea of mine. Dogwood clubs were favourite ones
with the boys. I 'spose they use 'em yet. Hickory is too
heavy, unless you get it from a young sapling. Have you
ever noticed how a stick in one's hand will change his
appearance? Old women and witches wouldn't look so
without sticks. Meg Merrilees understands that."
It is difficult to learn when Lincoln began to carry a
stick of such dignified appearance that it might be called
a cane. In Miss Walker's interesting study at Vincennes
of the Lincoln family's migration from Indiana to Illinois,
her bronze Lincoln appears beside the yoke of oxen draw-
ing the covered wagon with a goad in his hand. The ox
goad might be called the primitive walking stick of the
pioneer, as he often leaned upon it for support in much
the same manner as the shepherd upon his staff, with the
sharp point elevated in much the same fashion as the
herdsman's crook. The cattle driver in the Kentucky
country, even now, is seldom seen without his improvised
goad, or stock cane.
There are many canes in existence which are said to
have belonged to the President. A cane made of wood
taken from the Henry Clay home was supposedly carried
by Lincoln during the debates. One presented to Lincoln in
1860 was studded with fourteen knots, each knot mounted
with a silver crown bearing a letter in Abraham Lin-
coln's name. There was the Broderick oak cane presented
to Lincoln with great ceremony in 1863, and bearing its
interesting inscriptions on gold plates. The assassination
cane made of black ebony with its nine dots representing
the states which had withdrawn from the Union, is said
to have been left by Lincoln in the box at Ford's Theatre
on the night of his assassination.
The most famous of his many walking sticks, however,
was one presented to him by John A. McClernand in 1857.
The McClernand stick is undoubtedly the one which he
carried with him to Washington, and it finds a place in
the First Inaugural picture. A contemporary account of
Lincoln's appearance as he approached the platform on
this eventful day is found in a press correspondent's de-
scription of him : "He was arrayed in a full suit of regula-
tion black including a dress coat, a brand new silk hat,
and a ponderous gold-headed cane. After standing hesi-
tatingly a moment his cane in one hand and his hat in
the other he got rid of the former by thrusting it up in the
angle of the railing "
After Lincoln's death this same gold-headed cane was
presented to Dr. James Smith who was for seven years the
spiritual adviser of the Lincoln family at Springfield,
Illinois, and who was appointed by President Lincoln as
United States Consul at Edinburgh, Scotland.
Harper's Bazaar for August 27, 1871 published a codi-
cil from Dr. Smith's will which reads as follows:
"I give, devise and bequeath unto John Bright, Esq.,
member of the British House of Commons, and to his
heirs the gold-mounted staff or cane which belonged to
the deceased President Lincoln of the United States, and
presented to me by the deceased's widow and family as a
mark of the President's respect, which staff is to be kept
and used as an heirloom in the family of the said John
Bright, as a token of the esteem which the late President
felt for him because of his unwearied zeal and defense
of the United States in suppressing the civil rebellion of
the Southern States."
Through the courtesy of Harlan F. Burket, an attorney
in Findlay, Ohio, the attention of the editor of Lincoln
Lore was called to an excerpt from "The Life and
Speeches of John Bright" which was published in 1881.
It confirms the fact that the famous cane reached its
proper destination, as we see by the following notation :
"But perhaps the most interesting reminiscence relat-
ing to Mr. Bright and the United States is one respecting
which we are able to give the following particulars. The
staff used by President Lincoln was bequeathed to Mr.
Bright by the Rev. Dr. J. Smith of Springfield, Illinois,
the latter having first received it from Mr. Lincoln's fam-
ily. The President's gold-headed staff, or cane, bears the
following inscription on the gold head: 'J. A. McClernand
to the Hon. A. Lincoln, June 1857;' and on a gold ferule
below are the words, 'Presented to Rev. Jas. Smith, D. D.
late pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Springfield,
Ills, by the family of the late President Lincoln, in me-
moriam of the high esteem in which he was held by him
and them as their pastor and dear friend, 27th April,
1868'. On another gold ferule, lower down, is the follow-
ing: 'Bequeathed by the Rev. Dr. Smith, U. S. Consul,
Dundee, to the Right Hon. John Bright, M. P. in recogni-
tion of his tried friendship to the United States' ".
It is interesting to know that on the mantle of the study
in the White House at the time Lincoln was assassinated,
there was displayed a portrait of John Bright. Certainly
this famous cane found an appropriate home when it
reached the hands of the distinguished English statesman
who was ever in sympathy with the Union cause.
Washington Bureau of
the Chicago Record-Herald
1413 (x Street N. W.
July 5, 1902.
My dear Colonel Crook:
The Lincoln cane was duly delivered at
my office. Permit me to thank you for it with the utmost hearti-
ness. In my opinion it is a noble memento. Anything that serves
to remind one of that great man through association or contact
is a sacred souvenir. I am grateful to you for placing it in my
Col. Win. H. Crook Sincerely yours
The White House Walter Wellman
(Collection of Captain F. L. Pleadwell)
September 1, 1939
Capt. ?. L. Pleadvell, Medical Corps
0. S. liavy, 1522-C .
Honolulu, T. H.
Dear Capt. Pleatvell:
Thank you very much for your little note with
reference to the Lincoln cane presented to Walter Wellaan.
We irill see what ve can do about identifying
this cane. We do not seem to have any information about
it in our files.
Very truly yours,
- ^ ' ' — — f r * „ v_>
^ /->il ^^^^ _ ^3
, — /J J/
October 25, 1939
Mr. Augustus King
107 I. Pino Ave.
My dear Mr. King:
It vai kind of you indeed to recall our interest
in Lincoln upon observing certain curios in Chicago but
I feel ve would not be interested in acquiring the case
as ve give very little attention to curios here and the
picture vhich you mention we already have in our
We are grateful nevertheless for your calling
to our attention these interesting items.
Very truly yours,
fat ol^^^ /
^JLt-*!^fA- Ci^tyO^f c^--^-*^ ^^-t^-tfi^
^^UU^UL^&^j CX^x ol^ ^^J*0-v_
tfebrfery 1, 1940
lira. J. .V. Rhea
409 Fifth Hml
Dear Mrs. Rhea:
I wish to thnnk you for foxvarding us the infor-ia-
tion about the availability of the cane which belonged to
Our collection here nalnly consists of printed
Matter on the life and services of Abrahan Lincoln and thus
we x/onld not be interested in acquiring it.
Hoi/ever, we frequently havo inquiries ashing us
whore audi naterlal night be available, and if you will give
ne fill details regarding the cane I shovJ.d be very glad to
place them on file and if ire have inquiries regarding such
an iten I shall be very glad to refer them to yon.
mu c 0 ok
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND TECHNOLOGY
WASHINGTON. D.C. 20560
June k, 1973
Mr. Hark E. Neely, Jr.
Editor, Lincoln Lore
The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
Fort Wayne, Indiana U6801
Dear Mr. Neely:
Enclosed you will find articles concerning our most recent
accessions of objects associated with Abraham Lincoln complete
with photographs which you may find appropriate for inclusion in
Lincoln Lore . We are most fortunate in having such an outstanding
Lincoln collection here in the Smithsonian Institution and I think
the public should be made aware of it. As time permits, I shall
try to write up some of the other Lincolniana in the national
With best wishes,
Herbert R. Collins
Division of Political History
Lincoln cane (Accession 203979, donor: Samuel J. Prescott)
The cane is made of orangewood and painted black but has
since been sanded down and refinished in natural. The wood
is studded with U4. knots, each having a top of silver upon
which one letter of Lincoln's name is engraved, so that the
whole name is engraved, so that the whole series of letters
from the handle to ferrule spell "Abraham Lincoln."
There is a slight indenture on the top of the cane before
the bend of the handle which indicates that a medal band was
once there. Although this has been sanded extensively it is
still visable. Two tacks and a rough unsanded end at the very-
end of the handle indicates a medal plate has been lost from
This cane fits the description of one given to President
Lincoln on July k, 1859, when the city of Atlanta, Illinois
asked him to speak for their celebration at Turner's Grove
for the Nation's birth. Lincoln did agree to come but refused
to speak. On the occasion Mr. Sylvester Strong, an old time
friend of the President presented him with an orangewood cane
with knots topped in silver spelling "Abraham Lincoln."
First of all, the cane before it was sanded down and
refinished would have had the appearance of buckthorn. Although,
the stories of the o»mers of this cane since Lincoln are
conflicting, it seems most unlikely that Abraham Lincoln would
have o^med two canes so unusual and yet so similar.
By the omission of the original plates, it seems as though
someone might have gone to great effort to destroy the original
documentation of the cane
i@i*e account 'states the cane was'sold in Washington, D.C.
in 1906 to Samuel J. Prescott for $50.00^ - Another^ account
states it was sold at auction to H.H. Wibert for #lU5»00. The
latter newspaper article seems to bear out the facts best as
it states President Lincoln gave the cane to Frank B. Carpenter,
the artist who spent six months in the White House studying
Lincoln's likeness. Carpenter died in the early 1890' s and
the cane was auctioned by Fannie Mathews on at that time. Miss
Mathewson held the cane as security for a loan she had made
to Carpenter.- In view of these facts the newspaper article
must date prior to 1895* The fact which now needs documenting
is the transfer of the cane from Wibert to Job W. Angus sometime
between 1895 and 1906.. This would establish that the cane in
the Smithsonian Institution is indeed the cane presented to
Lincoln by his friend Sylvester Strong on his visit to Atlanta,
Illinois on July hj 1859 •
January 12. An impromptu presentation of handsome, richly ornamented,
' gold-headed cane is made to Lincoln this morning in business office of
St. Nicholas Hotel by returned Californian, an old friend and client. Chi-
cago Tribune, Jan. 14. Lincoln is called upon by old Indiana farmer named
Jones, for whom 30 years ago he worked as common farmhand at $1 per
day. Ibid. In letter to Sen. Seward (N.Y.) Lincoln reveals that he is trying
to get at least one Southerner in cabinet; also informs him that there is
"scarcely any objection" to him as secretary of state, but that there will
be trouble over "every other Northern cabinet appointment." CW, IV, 1 73.
Hawkins Taylor, Republican from Keokuk, Iowa, shows Lincoln postscript
of letter from Col. Warren supporting Sen. Cameron (Pa.) for cabinet.
DLC — SC, Taylor to Cameron, Jan. 12, 1861. [Mrs. Lincoln arrives in New
York City in company with Philip Dorsheimer, treasurer of state of New
York. Stays at Astor House. Washington Star, Jan. 15.] Lincoln with-
draws $3.30 from Springfield Marine Bank. H. E. Pratt, 1 75.
January 13. Lincoln writes Sen. Cameron (Pa.) conciliatory letter:
"I now think I will not definitely fix upon any appointment for Pennsylvania
until I reach Washington." CW, IV, 174-75. James Appleton, Jr., of
Boston, Sen.-elect Edgar Cowan (Pa.), and John P. Sanderson of Penn-
sylvania, state senator and confidential friend of Cameron, arrive late this
evening to visit Lincoln regarding cabinet appointment for Cameron.
Washington Star, Jan. 15.
January 14. Lincoln writes Gen. John E. Wool, commanding Dept. of the
East, to thank him for his "patriotic and generous letter." CW, IV, 1 75.
Former Cong. Richard Yates (111.) is inaugurated governor of Illinois. His
inaugural address, "although delivered under the very eyes of the President-
elect ... is so radical as to make it altogether improbable that it has his
sanction." N.Y. Herald, Jan. 14. Lincoln withdraws $30 from Springfield
Marine Bank. H. E. Pratt, 1 75.
January I5[?]. ["When Mrs. Lincoln was on her way home from New
York, attended by her son Robert, she found herself at Buffalo, without a
pass over the State Line Railroad; no provisions had been made for that
part of her trip from New York City to Springfield. After Mrs. Lincoln had
taken her seat at Buffalo Bob entered the office of R. N. Brown, esq., the
superintendent of the State Line Railroad, and said : 'My name is Bob Lin-
coln ; I'm a son of Old Abe — the old woman is in the cars raising h-11 about
her passes — I wish you would go and attend to her.' Mr. Brown allowed
Mrs. Lincoln and Bob to ride over his railroad free of charge." Baltimore
Sun, Feb. 22.]
January 16. New York delegation consisting of George Opdyke, New
York merchant, Hiram Barney, New York attorney, and Judge John T.
Hogeboom consults with Lincoln on cabinet appointments for Sen. Cameron
(Pa.) and Sen.-elect Chase (Ohio). They tell Lincoln "a thousand truths
which he ought to know." DLC — EBW, Ray to Washburne, Jan. 16, 1861.
( e<t *
To the Editor of The Courier-Journal.
Here is a fragment of tradition that
gives added weight to the belief that
Abraham Lincoln was born near Hod-
genville, then in Hardin, now In La-
rue County, Kentucky, as so interest-
ingly told by Otis M. Mather in The
Courier -Journal. My great-uncle,
Dr. George Rodman, of Hodgensville
at the first inauguration of President
Lincoln, presented to the latter a gold-
headed walking cane made from a
tree that he claimed grew on the
' spot where Mr. Lincoln was born,
January 12, 1809. If this cane is in
existence it would contribute mute
testimony to the accuracy of the tra-
dition I am here quoting from a clear
memory of the story told myself by
Mrs. William Milburn in Louisville,
in 1876, only eleven years after Lin-
I coin's tragic death. Descendants of
Drs. George and David Rodman, one
of whom, J. G. Rodman of Tonieville.
Coroner of Larue County, I name to
you now, should know of this cane
incident, which was impressed Indel-
ibly upon my memory by this aged
aunt, herself a sister-in-Jaw of Dr.
Rodman, brother of my\ maternal
grandmother, Nancy Rodman Jack-
! son of Lebanon, Ky. There existed
strong reasons for the handsome gift
\ to President Lincoln, from the fact
that the Rodmans and Lincoln's par-
ents were neighbors in Washington
, County, and together migrated to
1 Hardin County, where they continued
their former neighborly associations..
It is possible the Washington dis-
patches in The Courier-Journal of
I860, or possibly 1864, may have de-
; scribed the incident referred to. At
r, all events the cane was presented to
s Mr. Lincoln, and it is improbable he
would have accepted it as a memorial
from his birthplace had it not truly
commemorated that event,
e CLARENCE E. WOODS.
Honorary life member Kentucky
e and Florida Press Associations.
How is this for service? The Cou-
rier-Journal reaches me at 5:35 p.m.
same day as published — although I
am 125 miles west of Indianapolis and
150 south of Chicago. C. E. Woods
k, v w. w ^ <\
r^T^^ ^ w- w - ^ a.